According to Sarah Williams Volf, Director of Challenge Aspen Military Opportunities (CAMO), “Therapeutic recreation can benefit a wide range of people with disabilities, but over the past several years, there has been a growing need for therapeutic recreation programs specifically for injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Volf explains that because of medical advances and changes in the technology of war, mortality rate has dropped, but the number of permanent disabling injuries has dramatically increased.
“We are seeing so many young men and women between the ages of 20 and 40 who are returning injured, and they’ve gone from being very athletic, active young men and women to suddenly having an amputation or brain injury or visual impairment. The nature of the population is very different from when somebody has an illness that causes disability over time. Veterans who have a blast injury may need to have limbs amputated within a matter of an hour, so it tends to be a sudden and traumatic event.”
Because many individuals among this new disabled veteran population had been part of a relatively young, active group within the forces, Volf felt they could benefit from more outlets for outdoor recreation, rather than just typical disability sports or clinical therapy. So she started the programs that led to CAMO.
“Our program is based on the belief that therapy happens as a result of individual goal setting with participants pre-program and then designing a unique program that will meet their needs - then finally identifying in the end ‘have we met those goals’ and ‘what are their future goals.’”
If you take part in one of the therapeutic recreation camps or experiences at CAMO, highly trained personnel will use adaptive techniques and adaptive equipment to help you successfully engage in fun activities such as fly fishing, whitewater rafting, camping, or skiing, so you can make progress in your recovery without thinking about it as therapy.